Kenya’s experience informs new resource for increasing coordination on AIDS
21 November 2008
HIV prevalence in Kenya has halved in a decade – a dramatic and sustained decline rarely seen elsewhere in Africa. The Government aims to continue this level of progress by ensuring that the national response to the epidemic is as coordinated and collaborative as possible, and that funding is spent effectively.
In recent years, as national responses to and funding for AIDS in many countries have become more complex – with more activities, stakeholders and donors than a few years ago – coordination has become an even bigger challenge.
Kenya decided to support coordination by conducting Joint Annual Programme Reviews, which bring together a wide range of people working on AIDS to take a comprehensive look at the overall national response. The Joint Review process is led by the national Government and involves participation at all government levels, as well as by civil society organizations, networks of people living with HIV, local and district authorities, and international donors and organizations.
“Joint Reviews of National AIDS Responses: A Guidance Paper”.
With the lessons learned from the Joint Review processes in Kenya and other countries, UNAIDS has developed a new publication entitled “Joint Reviews of National AIDS Responses: A Guidance Paper”. It aims to help countries conduct Joint Reviews and improve coordination, implementation and funding effectiveness among the many stakeholders involved in national responses.
Well carried out Joint Reviews provide a truly nationally-led forum for sharing information, achievements, shortfalls, challenges and emerging issues, and assessing how well efforts and spending are aligned in meeting the goals of the national AIDS strategy.
Kenya has undertaken in 2007 the 6th consecutive Joint Review of its national response and the process has become a valued method for building bridges and coalitions among the many groups involved in the AIDS response.
Kenya’s 2007 Joint Review lasted two and a half months and involved hundreds of participants – not a quick or easy process, but well worth the effort. The Review is widely recognized by those working on AIDS as a platform for bringing together data from a range of sectors and levels, including surveillance and service delivery data, as well as qualitative data collected at the community level. The 2007 Review was more inclusive than ever, with participants from all 71 districts and nine regions of the country. The findings and recommendations were used to revise the way the country measures the results of AIDS programmes, and also to inform planning at district and regional levels. The effort of doing regular participatory joint reviews has resulted in more alignment, collaboration and commitment among the many organizations involved in the Kenyan AIDS response.
Anatomy of a Joint Review
The new Guidance Paper gives specific advice for conducting a successful Joint Review. However, just as every country’s AIDS epidemic and response is different, the Joint Review process in each country will differ according to the national political environment, health and social policies, infrastructure, economic development and other factors. Nonetheless, the Guidance Paper lays out several principles which should help build a strong Joint Review process in any country, including:
- national ownership
- inclusion and participation
- commitment to results – participants must agree from the outset to subscribe to the recommendations of the Review
- evidence informed
- enhancing national planning
- sensitivity to gender and human rights.
The Joint Annual Programme Review process is a vital tool in the global effort by governments and development organizations to ‘make the money work’ – ensuring that all AIDS funds are linked to national objectives and simplifying aid structures. In Kenya, for example, the Joint Review process has helped to strengthen donors’ confidence in the quality and effectiveness of national programmes.
The new Guidance Paper on Joint Reviews, along with other related tools, is designed to help countries unite the many stakeholders involved in the AIDS response, in order to increase understanding of the epidemic and work collectively to achieve results.